Your hearing aids aren’t sounding the way they should even though you just changed the batteries. Everything seems distant, muffled, and not right. It’s like you aren’t hearing the full sound you’re supposed to be receiving. When you try to diagnose the issue with a simple Google search, the most plausible answer seems to be a low battery. And that’s aggravating because you’re really diligent about setting your hearing aid on the charging platform before you go to sleep every night.
But here you are with some friends and you can’t really hear their discussion. You got hearing aids to avoid this exact situation. You might want to check out one more possibility before you become too angry about your hearing aids: earwax.
A Residence in Your Ears
Your hearing aids reside in your ear, in most cases. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for best performance, other versions have been designed to be placed directly in the ear canal. Wherever your hearing aid is situated, it will be close to an ever-present neighbor: earwax.
A Guard Against Earwax
Now, earwax does a lot of great things for the health of your ears (many studies have demonstrated that earwax actually has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that can help ward off numerous infections). So earwax isn’t a negative thing.
But hearing aids and earwax don’t always get along quite as well–the standard operation of your hearing aid can be hampered by earwax, peculiarly the moisture. The good thing is, that earwax is predictable and manufacturers are well aware of it.
So modern hearing aids have shields, known as wax guards, designed to stop earwax from impacting the normal function of your device. And those wax guards might be what’s creating the “weak” sound.
Wax Guard Etiquette
There is a tiny piece of technology inside your hearing aid known as a wax guard. Wax can’t pass through but sound can. So that your hearing aid can continue to work efficiently, a wax guard is indispensable. But there are some situations where the wax guard itself could cause some issues:
- A professional check and clean is required: In order to be sure that your hearing aid is working properly, it needs to be cleaned once a year. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you also need to have your hearing tested routinely.
- It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard should be a monthly (or so) upkeep task. As with any filter, a wax guard can eventually become clogged with the exact thing it’s been tasked with eliminating. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is clogging up the wax guard and once in a while, you will need to clean it.
- You haven’t replaced your wax guard for a while: Like any other filter, eventually, the wax guard will no longer be able to adequately perform its job. A wax guard can only be cleaned so many times. When cleaning no longer does the trick, you might have to change your wax guard (you can purchase a special toolkit to make this process smoother).
- Your hearing aid shell is dirty: And let’s remember your hearing aid shell, which also has to be cleaned when you switch out your wax guard. If earwax is clogging your device, it’s feasible some of that wax may make its way into the inside of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and, naturally, this would impede the function of the hearing aid).
- You have replaced your wax guard with the incorrect model: Each model and maker has a different wax guard. If you get the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions might be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
If you buy a new hearing aid guard, it will probably come with instructions, so it’s a good idea to follow those instructions the best you can.
After I Switch Out my Earwax Guard
Once you’ve changed your earwax guard, your hearing aids should start producing clearer sounds. You’ll be able to hear (and follow along with) conversations again. And that’s a huge relief if you’ve been annoyed with your (fully charged) hearing aid.
There’s undoubtedly a learning curve when it comes to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: if your hearing aid sounds weak and your batteries are fully charged, it might be time to replace your earwax guard.